Solo travel tips in Costa Rica

photo by Fred Hsu

If you decide to travel to Costa Rica, there at two options: travel in a group, on a tour package, or travel independently. If you decide to travel on your own, without the restrictions and timetables of an organized tour, you might ask yourself the question whether Costa Rica lends itself to solo travel. If you are traveling with friends or family, it’s easier to share responsibilities, swap ideas and keep each other company, but what’s to do if you are the the type to travel solo? Fortunately, Costa Rica treats solo travelers well: there are plenty of attractions to ward off the travel blues, and many people – locals and tourists alike – who might just prove to be your future best friends. But if you want to make sure that your trip to Costa Rica goes without a hitch, here are some solo travel tips in Costa Rica.

Mind your valuables

Like in all countries with lots of tourists, pickpockets and petty thieves are inevitable, and very crafty. If you are traveling alone, it’s especially important to keep your things safe, especially your passport and your IDs. Don’t carry your passport with you, nor any large amounts of cash. Visible jewellery is a no-no! In bus and train stations is it especially important to keep an eye on your luggage, because the bustle and confusion make it easier to thieves to quietly steal your luggage.

Avoiding harassment

San Jose, photo by Arturo Sotillo

If you are a solo woman traveler, the most uncomfortable part of your trip to Costa Rica will be dealing with the machismo culture. Although single women traveling in Costa Rica are not a rare sight, catcalls, shouts and hisses are a common way to attract a woman’s attention. Most men can be dissuaded with a polite but firm no, but if you are having trouble don’t hesitate to ask for help from police or passers-by.

Know where you travel

All cities in the world have disreputable parts where most locals are afraid to venture at night. When traveling solo, it is especially important to inform yourself about which parts of which cities can become dangerous at night. San Jose is known to be rather shady at night off the main streets, so if you are returning to your hotel late at night, you should either get a cab of find someone to accompany you. However, Costa Rica is a pretty safe country, so use your common sense to decide when caution should be exercised.

Getting in touch with people

Tamarindo, photo by Christian Haugen

As a solo traveler, hostel common areas are one of the best places to meet fellow travelers with whom you can exchange stories and experiences. If you feel like traveling with other for a while, you can join activity tours, like hiking to Arenal, rafting, zip lining and exploring the national parks. Volunteering for short periods is also a great way to meet people, enjoy yourself and do something good for the planet or local communities.


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